Anna Yesterday owns Yesterday’s Antiques in small town USA. She finds an old newspaper clipping in an antique dresser, which tells a disturbing story she’s never heard before. As Anna starts to dig into it, her sleuthing exposes an ugly cover-up that casts the residents of Crocker, Indiana into danger, and leaves them with a corpse. More
Mayor Bethesda Questioned in Housemaid’s Rape
She blinked and found herself reaching for the newspaper, thinking it had to be some kind of joke. But the words beneath the headline were no joke. And the paper looked genuinely old. As Anna read the account of the poor, young woman who had worked in the mayor’s mansion almost fifty years earlier, who’d apparently caught the mayor’s eye and paid a huge price for it. A chill slipped down her spine, along with a premonition of danger that made no sense.
“What you got, darlin’?”
Anna jumped, the newsprint slipping from her fingers. “Dammit, Joss! You scared the crap out of me.”
She turned around and found him smiling unapologetically. “Boo.”
Anna laughed, dropping the yellowed newsprint on the table and tapping the headline with her finger. “Do you remember this?”
Joss had been in Crocker Indiana a long time. Ever since he’d been shot down in a gun battle in 1861, in the build up to the Civil War. Crocker had been a collection of ramshackle buildings then, according to Joss, and he’d been buried, along with Bess, on the land where the antiques store now stood. The bodies had been moved decades earlier, when the town of Crocker had been built, but something of Joss’s had remained behind, something that tied him inexorably to the store. Workers digging post holes in the back yard a couple of years earlier had uncovered Joss’s cherished gun belt and holster, minus the gun. Sensing its importance, Anna had cleaned it up and locked it in her safe on that very same day.
Joss appeared to her for the first time that night. Needless to say, he’d scared the shit out of her then too.
“I ain’t never seen that headline, darlin’. I remember that scalawag Bethesda though, and his spoiled mongrel of a son. The little sharper used to come into the candy shop that was here then and hoist candy cool as you please. If the kid hadn’t been the mayor’s boy he’d a been headed direct to a necktie sociable or at the very least the cooler.” Joss shook his head, looking properly appalled. “Kid would smile at the woman while he absquatulated with the goods, knowin’ she’d fear makin’ his daddy the mayor wrathy if she spoke up.”
Anna nodded. “You’re talking about Mason Bethesda, right?”
“Crocker’s current mayor? Less’n there’s another skunk with the same name I’m guessin’ it has to be. The Bethesda’s been runnin’ this town long as I can remember. Doin’ a bang up job of it too.” He grimaced and Anna resisted the urge to commiserate. Once Joss got started on his long, long list of complaints about the Bethesda’s it took an act of nature to get him to stop. “Turns out I was right about that boy. He did grow up to be a hoister, he just done it in a suit.”
Chuckling, Anna said, “I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this before.” She turned a speculative look on her resident ghost. “And it’s even more amazing you’ve never heard of it.”
“Seems about as likely as catchin’ a weasel asleep.”
Weariness finally overcame curiosity and Anna decided to head home. “I’m locking this in the safe, Joss. I’ll do some digging on it tomorrow.” She grinned a wicked grin. “I doubt Mason Bethesda would want it known his daddy had been accused of rape.”
Joss’s husky laugh made Anna’s stomach do an interested little flip. “I’m guessin’ the knowledge might send his campaign a might South, that’s for sure.”